Sony Xperia XA2 hands-on: Mid-range specs, mid-range looks?

Written by Colton

Sony Xperia XA2 hands-on: Mid-range specs, mid-range looks?

CES 2018 hasn’t been awash with exciting high-end phones. There’s been the Samsung Galaxy A8 getting its first public showing and a couple of nifty concepts from Vivo and Razer, but the new 2018 flagships are going to have to wait until MWC in February.

There has, however, been a few mid-range options – with Sony’s XA2 arguably the most high-profile. Sony’s XA line has been a mixed bag so far, and I haven’t particularly rated any of them due to poor screens and outdated designs. But, my first impressions are slightly more positive with the XA2.

Sony Xperia XA2 price and release date

The Sony Xperia XA1 will see a release in February, with a price similar to the XA1.

There isn’t anything radically different here, but a couple of design changes make this look like a much better thought out phone than before.

The biggest difference is that the fingerprint scanner, which now sits in the middle on the back, is properly enabled and working on the US models. For reasons that never seemed to be properly explained, previous Xperia phones in the States shipped with all the technology for it to be unlocked with your finger, but it was disabled. Thankfully, that’s not the  case anymore.

Another welcome change is to the design, which follows the typically boxy Sony blueprint. There’s a slight curve on the back of the Xperia XA2 now though, which makes it so much comfier to hold. The edges and corners are still sharp, but it feels a lot better than the Xperia XZ1.

Having said that, I am truly now bored of this design. It’s thick, feels heavy, and even when you compare it other budget options from the likes of Alcatel and Honor it feels, well, old-fashioned. The front of the phone is metal, but the back retains the cheaper feeling plastic of the predecessor. It lacks any sort of water-resistant rating, which even at the likely affordable price is a shame, but at least there’s a headphone jack on the top for your wired buds.

The 5.2-inch screen is now 1080p (bumped up from HD on the XA1) and from my first impressions the LCD panel looks good. It’s bright, colourful and almost stretches to the edges on the sides. It’s not the biggest screen around, there’s the XA2 Ultra for that, but unless you’re really into streaming video on the go you should be fine.

On the inside, Sony has ditched the usual MediaTek CPU for a Snapdragon 630 and good on them. The older XA1 was frustratingly slow at times and became a chore to use. There’s also 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and a decently-sized 3300 mAh battery. Again, that battery is a nice improvement over the outgoing model.

One thing that hasn’t changed much is the 23-megapixel camera on the back. It’s still a high-end sensor for a mid-range phone, but it’s essentially the same one Sony used before. I shot a couple of test shots in the oddly lit demo area and they came out fine, but I will really need much longer with the phone to fully judge the optics.

Around the front is an 8-megapixel selfie camera that now packs some software trickery to give a wide-angle look. This should be good for cramming more faces into your shots.

First impressions

The XA2 is a nice spec-bump over the XA1 and there are a few welcome additions in the form of a higher-res screen and Snapdragon CPU. But Sony’s design is still behind the pack and with lots of budget options moving to a slicker build, the XA2 could feel old very quickly.